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Florida to pursue death penalty for suspect in murder of Microsoft executive

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(JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla.) — Florida prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty for the man who is accused of masterminding the murder of Microsoft executive Jared Bridegan, prosecutors said at a court hearing Wednesday.

Mario Fernandez Saldana, the new husband of the victim’s ex-wife, committed the crime for “pecuniary gain” and did so in a “cold calculated and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification,” prosecutors alleged.

Those “aggravating factors” allow Florida to seek capital punishment pursuant to Fernandez Saldana’s first-degree murder charge, prosecutors added.

Under Florida’s new death penalty law, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April, only eight out of 12 members on a jury would be needed to send Fernandez Saldana to death row. First, he would have to be convicted unanimously by a jury, or plead guilty.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Fernandez Saldana was arrested in March after prosecutors discovered a link between him and Henry Tenon, who was previously charged in the murder of Bridegan.

Fernandez Saldana was Tenon’s landlord, authorities said, and wrote three checks to Tenon, according to his arrest warrant. Authorities also discovered dozens of phone calls between Saldana and Tenon in February 2022, the month of the murder.

Bridegan, 33, a father of four, was driving with his then-2-year-old daughter in Jacksonville Beach when he came upon a tire “purposefully” blocking his path, police said earlier this year. When he stepped out of the car he was “gunned down in cold blood,” police added.

Tenon has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.

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